Is Lady Luck The Key To Building Aston Villa’s Confidence?
Well, that made a change. As Monday starts, we’ve had the less-than-familiar feeling of looking back on an Aston Villa win. The 2-1 win against West Ham United may not have been one to be lauded to our children and grandchildren in the future, but it was just the tonic that was needed.
After all, we have had numerous experiences in recent times where Villa have let leads slip, only to find ourselves cursing at how three points became one, with the matches against Everton and West Bromwich Albion still fresh in our minds.
In the last minutes, as whistles rang out across the ground, there was a palpable sense of panic amongst our fans. Referee Mark Clattenburg had, if I am honest, been favourable to Villa with both goals coming from calls given their scoring from set plays.
Those last minutes were not ones I’d want to repeat in a hurry, especially if Villa’s form leaves them close to danger come the end of the season. Whilst few can argue that situations such as those get the heart racing, I doubt many of us would want to consider the possibility that our last game of the season, away to fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic, could be the difference between staying up and going down.
Of course, that possibility is far from a certainty, though form does seem to dictate that Villa will be close to the wrong end of the table come the end of the season. However, this is far from a certainty, and the fact that a mere six points separate us from our opponents on Sunday in 11th illustrates just how tight the league has become.
Paul Lambert spoke on Friday about the need to look at winning six of the remaining games in order to guarantee our survival. The win against West Ham is a step towards that, though I wouldn’t suggest we need to aim to just win five games, rather we have to do our best in all of them.
That may sound like a fairly obvious statement, but Villa have the potential to make things happen, and the talent to be able to pull away from the drop zone. Whether that potential is realised, however, is far from a certainty.
Looking back on Saturday, there were positives. Whilst the game was scrappy with neither team showing dominance, there was attacking threat available and, as probability dictates, more attacking means more (potential) goals.
The issues that need to be ironed out are in the defensive areas though. Nathan Baker took his role on the left and imposed himself, ending up bloodied as a result of a clash of heads with Andy Carroll. However, his performance wasn’t much more than average in my opinion.
In the middle, Ciaran Clark appeared to start brightly, presumably buoyed by his performance with Ireland earlier that week, though his confidence again seemed to dip, resorting to what has become a routine of shirt pulling in desperate defending situations.
What matters for Villa as they get into the final twelves games is whether their issues are fixable, and whether they can use something of their expertise, size, or other abilities in order to survive.
Truth be told, Villa are by far the biggest club mired in the relegation battle, though this doesn’t mean anything in itself. Wigan, comparative experts at facing relegation issues, are close by as are Reading. Other clubs can, and may well, be drawn into issues though one imagines that at least one of Reading or Wigan will finish below us come the end of the season.
In addition to the aforementioned duo, it seems that Queens Park Rangers will form part of the bottom three come the end of the season. Whilst Harry Redknapp has earned something of a reputation as a magic worker, owner Tony Fernandes’ “commitment” to player turnover does seem likely to contribute to their downfall.
After all, QPR have brought in double figure numbers of players over the past few seasons, and many of these players have smacked of short term fixes, and expensive ones at that.
By comparison, Villa are both young and inexpensive. I almost said “cheap”, though I don’t feel it fair to tar the team with that brush as cheap has a particular connotation to it that I don’t think is a true representation of the current squad.
Sure, Villa’s team are inexperienced and, in many cases, have cost less money than had been lavished in earlier years, but they have potential. Whether that potential is realised, as mentioned above, is likely to be the key to if the club from Birmingham are operating in the Premier League next season or the Championship.
Based on the weekend, it could go either way, though the swing of luck’s pendulum may be the hair’s breadth that gives Villa a boost to get out of the mess.
The next few games will be challenging though with many fans predicting nothing, the lack of pressure may well be liberating in itself. Pull something out of the bag in the next few games and the belief may be back for good.
Till then, enjoy the win – I have and will continue to do so.